“It’s the only two months we work,” Barnes said through a smile.
But all jokes aside, the Johnson City Schools maintenance crew members are the unsung heroes of the district as they maintain and improve the facilities that are so vital to students, teachers and staff each day.
The 24 talented crew members, including executive assistant LeDonna Hughes, have varying expertise that add an ability to the district that is rarely seen in a maintenance crew. With certified HVAC specialists, plumbers, concrete workers, electricians, contractors and flooring experts, there is seldom a job that the crew can’t complete; and often times it’s on schedule and under budget.
“We are extremely fortunate to have the talent that we do on our staff,” Barnes said. “We don’t have to hold their hand or check on them, because they are all hard workers who take pride in the work they complete.”
Johnson City Schools Superintendent Dr. Steve Barnett agreed with Barnes.
“We can’t tell our maintenance crew thank you enough for all the things they do to make our schools great,” Barnett said. “Whether it’s salting the parking lot and sidewalks with the anticipation of snow or maintaining the nearly 350 acres of school grounds, the maintenance staff does an incredible job making sure our students and staff have top-notch facilities.”
In all, the maintenance crew is responsible for the upkeep of nearly 1.5 million square feet of facilities in the school system. They’ve helped keep schools that are over five decades old, like Towne Acres Elementary, in pristine condition. They’ve also helped facilities like Woodland, Mountain View and Lake Ridge, which are over two decades old, look as though they were built less than a decade ago.
Maintenance crew member PJ Moody will celebrate his second decade with the group in August and he said he enjoys coming to work each and every day.
“It’s a great job because you do a lot of different stuff,” Moody said. “You never know what you’ll be getting into each day, but that’s what keeps it interesting.”
Last summer the crew was able to help put the finishing touches on the Johnson City Schools STEAM Bus. That project required them to gut a retired school bus and transform it into a modern day mobile classroom, complete with shelves, work spaces and Wi-Fi.
While the summer is a busy time for the maintenance crew, the school year doesn’t slow down. Last year the group completed over 2,500 work orders.